Texas’ recent shelter-in-place order to try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has been partially lifted, though the disease is still impacting our ability to work and gather safely. Spending so much time at home has given some of us the chance to reconnect with our spouses and children. Unfortunately, it has also led to an increase in domestic violence accusations. The University of Texas at Dallas reports that such allegations spiked by 12.5 percent when the state’s order began.

Many parts of the country have reported increased domestic assault incidents during lockdown, which is ongoing in limited forms in several states. Domestic violence has long been a problem in the United States. Now spouses, parents and children who are being forced to stay home may be living with an abuser — or someone who is ready to falsely accuse them of abuse to the police.

The university researchers examined the number of domestic assault complaints made to the Dallas Police Department in the 83 days prior to March 24, the day that Dallas County began its pandemic lockdown. They compared those numbers with those from the 35 days after March 24. The researchers found that domestic violence calls went up 12.5 percent in the three weeks after the order went into effect. After that, the rate slowly went down again.

What to do if you are accused of domestic violence

Domestic violence accusations are notoriously difficult to investigate. Often, the person arrested was actually defending themselves from an assault. Other times, the accusation is outright false.

Regardless of the truth behind the prosecution’s case, if you have been charged with domestic violence, you must take steps to protect your rights. The most important move you can make is to hire a defense attorney who understands the criminal justice process thoroughly. You should have a smart defense strategy that gives you the best chance of staying out of jail.